What is Erosion? A Comprehensive Guide to Study Erosion



Soil erosion is the process by which the surface layers of soil are worn away by the action of wind, water, and ice. Erosion is initiated by drag, impact, or tractive forces acting on individual particles of soil at the surface.

Except for some cases of shoreline and stream channel erosion, natural soil erosion occurs at a relatively slow and steady rate. During times of human disturbances such as logging, mining, road building, or construction activities, soil can be left open and exposed and erosion can accelerate beyond the natural rate.

Two of the most common types of erosion are rainfall and wind erosion. When vegetation or cover is stripped away, surface soil is directly exposed to raindrops, runoff, and wind. It is a vicious cycle as the best solution is re-vegetation, yet continuing erosion jeopardizes re-vegetation.




Water erosion is seen in areas where water makes its way down river valleys or streams. As water comes to drain off of a river or stream, it picks up debris along the way. This debris is usually smaller than the object that came with the water. It may also pick up larger rocks, soil, and small animals. The larger objects that come with the water are called “flood deposits”.




Wind erosion is a form of natural erosion. The eroded particles that remain are blown away by the wind as well as coming into contact with other particles in the air. If you have ever travelled down a sloping road and noticed how the leaves on the trees get blown across the road on windy days, then you will see what I mean. One common feature in wind erosion is that the debris is scattered evenly over the area, which means that everything is very evenly distributed.




Landscape erosion is the most common type of erosion in a community. With this type of erosion, the ground is eroded due to the movement of large pieces of debris. It can also be caused by erosion due to natural conditions that do not normally lead to the movement of dirt and debris.




Mass wasting is the movement of soil and mineral earth, bedrock, or rock debris downslope in bulk, or as an intact mass, due to the pull of gravity and the interaction of erosive forces. Landslide is a general term for the slow to rapid descent of rock or soil. Re-vegetation combined with cuttings can provide firm stabilization to slide or banks in danger of sliding. Inclusion of live cuttings can provide immediate structural value to a slope. The science of bioengineering is an integral part of the rehabilitation of habitat.




Ice eroding is a type of erosion that can occur over glaciers. This type of erosion happens when the glaciers melt, and the ice that was on top of it crashes down. This type of erosion is very intense because the surface that was formerly covered with ice is now exposed.

Ice eroding is also known as drift. This is the process that ice picks up from the river and flows down the valleys or streams. Since the ice is floating on the water, it can pick up different materials that float with the water as well. This type of erosion will also pick up smaller and larger objects.




Frost and snow erosion is a type of erosion that occurs when snow and ice make their way down hills. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is most common in regions that are very cold and windy. Sometimes, the wind that blows and picks up the snow also picks up other smaller objects as well.




Weathering causes the degeneration of stones or rock near the earth strata. Animal and plant life, water, and atmosphere are the leading causes of weathering. Weathering disintegrates and slackens the minerals present on the surface of the earth so that it can be transported away by means of erosion such as wind, water, or ice.




The process of weathering is further divided into 3 main types such as:




Chemical weathering occurs when rain water responding to the mineral grains in massive rocks to form new minerals (clays) and salts. These reactions happen mostly when the water is somewhat acidic. In the process of chemical weathering, water plays an important role – when there is water, the process becomes faster at a higher temperature. Practically there are 2 different types of chemicals weathering as discussed below:

    • Hydrolysis – It is the process of chemical weathering in which the disintegration of rock occurs due to the presence of acidic water in rocks to product soluble salts and clay.
    • Oxidation – It’s another type of chemical weathering process in which disintegration happens due to the presence of oxygen and water cumulatively in rocks, which gives iron-rich rocks in rusty color appearance.




Physical weathering is usually occuring due to the effects of changing atmospheric temperature on stones or rocks, causing it to break apart. The procedure is sometimes supported by water. There are 2 common types of physical weathering:

    • Freeze-Thaw

      – It is the process that usually happens when water constantly infiltrates into cracks, freezes, and expands, ultimately breaking the boulders apart.

    • Exfoliation

      – It is the process that usually happens when cracks in land progresses parallel to surface a result of the reduction in pressure through uplift and erosion.

Physical weathering occurs specifically in places where there is little to no soil and fewer plants, such as in deserts or mountainous regions.




Mechanical weathering is the progression of breaking boulders into little ones. This process typically occurs near the earth’s strata. Furthermore, temperature plays an important role in the process of mechanical weathering. The combination of hot days and cool nights continually cause to expand and contract. That movement can cause boulders to crack and break apart into stones.




Weathering is quite common, but it should not be confused with Erosion. The process of removal of sand, silt, or else naturally with the help of an external force such as wind, ice, and water is known as Erosion. Whereas the process of weathering based on the movement or transportation of minerals due to wind, rain, or ice.




The cause of erosion can be due to natural occurrences, which can be prevented to make your landscape maintenance tasks a little easier. There are many different types of erosion control methods that are harmless to your surrounding landscape gardens. If home and farm owners decide not to control their erosion problems, they may be affecting their crops, flowers, and plants from having a nutritional and healthy life, and they will die. By treating your erosion problems and controlling them, you will ensure a healthy life for all those flowers, shrubs, plants, and trees which are featured in your landscaping areas and retaining walls.

For a more in depth guide to erosion control, click here.




There are numerous unlike types of erosion control approaches. There are methods suitable for farming crops and residential landscaping sites. Firstly you must determine how severe the erosion problem is. Do this by thoroughly inspecting the affected area and surrounding erosion affected areas. Once you have learned how serious it may be, this will give you an idea of what sort of method you will need to put into action. Sealants and compressors can sometimes help protect your hardscaped and softscapes areas.




Silt fences are placed by making a deposit/sediment trap facing upslope such that overflow can’t go around the ends of the fence. It is folded or pleated to form a pocket for the deposit to settle on and diminish the likelihood of sediment deflation the silt fence. Washing out and pondering the gathered sediment in the turf can be accomplished with a moveable hanging or platform gauge at several time intervals depending on the essential degree of aspect in the measurement of erosion (that is, after every rainstorm, seasonally, or quarterly). Silt fences joint with a tipping vessel rain gauge offer an easy, low-cost technique to compute precipitation slope erosion connections.




Areas subject to erosion during episodes of storm water flow include steep slopes, pond edges, and stream banks. In large, exposed ponds, there may be a potential for wave action on the shore, and in winter, ice can scrape away at banks. There are a variety of “revetments” available to help reinforce these areas. Examples are loose rocks, broken concrete, furnace slag, mine tailings, rubble, gabions (wire cages filled with stones), or specially made interlocking blocks. These flexible reinforcements are usually preferred over rigid structures (like poured concrete slabs) that tend to become undercut and break.




Turbidity Barriers are similar to the silt fence except that the fabric prevents water penetration. Use when working in streams, wetlands, and lake areas. Floating Turbidity Barriers float on the water. Use them to surround the construction site to prevent silt from escaping into the environment. The barrier is easy to transport and install and is often reusable. Typically 50′ long sections are connected together with an overlap joint that prevents silt loss at the joints.




An erosion control blanket is intended to stop the soil from eroding and provide a base for new vegetation to grow. As the vegetation becomes firmly rooted, the erosion control blanket gradually degrades to offer nutrients to the soil. Most erosion control blankets are made from straw, which provides insulation to the growing vegetation as well as protection to the ground. Another popular material for erosion control blankets is burlap, which, like straw, is biodegradable. Biodegradable blankets are typically used in an area where the seed is laid down and act as a temporary erosion control method until the root structures are in place. You can also purchase blankets made from geotextile fabrics. These are typically a netted plastic that remains in the ground for a permanent fix without plants growing into the area.

Erosion control blankets are available in many different sizes. Generally, they are made out of straw that is pressed into a mat, which covers the area where erosion is taking place. Erosion is when the soil and surrounding vegetation is moving downward as on a hill or riverbank. Stopping the erosion is done by new vegetation growth which supports the soil and stops it from eroding.




CURLEX are type of erosion control blanket. Erosion Control Blankets were invented in the early 60`s, and is a great way to stabilize soil during seed germination in a reinforced mulch setting. The easiest way to understand what an erosion control blanket is to think of a blanket that is made out of mulch (wood, straw, plastic) sewn together in between a couple of polypropylene nets.  The nets and threads hold the mulch and rest of the blankets together. The blankets are then rolled out and pinned to the ground with a variety of types of soil fasteners. The soil is prepared and seeds are planted, after that point the blankets are rolled out and pinned to the hill or slope.




The explanation of erosion is the steady removal, reduction, and weakening of sand or soil from the surface of the earth. None desires their plot to be gradually devastated or faded, so the solution found against the battle of erosion, especially on hillside area, is jute netting.

Jute netting is a biodegradable form of netting. This netting is placed over hills that do not have vegetation growing on them. After jute netting has been placed, seeds can be planted on the hillside. The jute netting now serves multiple purposes. It keeps the soil and seeds from washing or blowing away, and stores heat while providing partial shade for the seeds. Given these optimal conditions, the seeds quickly sprout and grow up through the jute nets. At this point, the plants and their roots will stop the erosion of the hill, and the jute netting simply biodegrades away.




Coir logs are another essential element that helps to prevent erosion. These are prevalent material for use in construction sites, environmental preservation, restoration areas, or hillsides and aquatic erosion control too. These are strong and durable enough to resist weather conditions such as storms, hurricanes, rainstorms, and, when wagered to a hillside, help stop soil slippage by holding the water until deposition settles.




Fibre mulch mats are the most common source of erosion control which is seen and used on residential landscaping sites which are suffering from erosion. Fibre mulch mats are made of small fibre particles which interlock together with the mulch. They are designed in a mat from to they will blend in with all types of soil and landscape surfaces. Fibre mulch mats will keep moisture in your topsoil and prevent erosion from occurring by acting as a top coating and not letting water, wind or ice penetrate through if the moisture is not needed.

Erosion control matting is generally made from materials such as; jute, wood, coir, straw, mulches, fibers and other organic materials. Synthetic mesh straw strands are used to then hold the matting together. The purpose of the matting is solely to reduce the effect of erosion and help with the formation of vegetation on farming properties.




Sack gabions are used extensively in temporary work situations to provide structural and erosion resistance to channels and infrastructure. Sack gabions are filled offsite, before lifting into place as required. Their flexibility allows them to be stacked onto one another and conform to uneven topography.




The grass is another choice for erosion control. Still, grass will merely control erosion temporarily. It can be sited on to the eroded zone, where it will then cultivate over, covering the area, and providing impermanent control. The grassed zone could be turned into a simple lawn, by adding vegetation, and shrubs. There are many nourishing products like plant food and seeds that will assist the shrubberies to grow. A cemented border around the orchard will also help building a nice surrounding. Concrete and Brick Pavers etc. are highly acclaimed.




Mulch is an economical material. It helps to prevent erosion control just by installing a simple layer. It has noticed that only one coat is enough to protect the soil from erosion, which occurs due to heavy rainfall. There are two kinds of mulching process:




Hydro-mulching, occasionally stated to as hydro-seeding. It is a grass planting process. The practice is fast, effective, and inexpensive. This grass planting procedure is typically more effective than conformist seeding and indeed more cost-effective than conventional sodding.




Hay mulching is a process that blows a stream of cut hay or straw and binder immediately onto a site which has been re-vegetated by a mixture of seed and fertilizer. The binder applied to the straw/hay ensures the straw/hay remains intact as a protective covering over the seed mixture.

The application of hay mulch after harvest is an effective soil conservation practice to reduce soil erosion. Severe thunderstorms, steep slope gradients and long slopes may require heavier application rates for adequate erosion control. The addition of hay mulch also tends to reduce soil temperature and increase soil moisture.







It’s one of the most common types of erosion that usually occurs in almost every street. It’s the process of removal or re-location of sand deposited along drainage lines by running surface water. It’s necessary to taken care of gully erosion. Otherwise, it will continue to travel by headword or by slumping of the walls. Overhauling done in the early stages of newly designed gullies is much more comfortable and economical than letting the problem go unchecked for too long. It’s understood that large ditches are costly to repair, whereas small gullies are inexpensive.




It’s important to check the soil erosion before starting the construction of any building activity. No matter, either it’s a residential activity or commercial construction, you must check for soil erosion in order to avoid worst consequences. In general, erosion defines as the phenomena of break down the soil or rocks by physical or chemical break caused by Mother Nature. Examples of soil erosion are wind, water, rain, or ice. Erosion is caused by nature, and there are numerous preventing techniques available.




Water erosion is practically speaking caused by rain, stream flow, waves, hydraulic action and abrasion, glacier movement, defrosting, etc.




As the name interprets, it is the process of soil removal or movement from one point to another due to wind force. It’s one of the most severe environmental problems enticing the attention of many geologists across the world. This phenomenon usually occurs in bare, flat, dry, or sandy land areas or any other area where sand left un-compacted. It became the reason for soil removal, aridness, and deterioration of soil structure, productivity, nutrient losses, and air pollution. Suspended dust is unavoidably sediment over everything.




This is another most common type of erosion that usually occurs in cultivated fields or on-site where soil consolidation is poor. It is a phenomenon of soil removal in thin layers by external forces called overland flow or raindrops. In this type of erosion, you can’t even notice the process because it’s slow in nature. It can cover a hefty area of oblique land and go unnoticed for several time. It can either be recognized by sedimentation of sand at the bottom of slanted land or by the presence of light. If sheet erosion let unattended, then it will gradually eradicate the nutrients and organic matter from the soil, which is important for agricultural land.




Rock Berm used as a component of a floodwater storage system can achieve the same objective as a grassed waterway, however, does not require the land area or associated problems related to the grassed waterway and works as a slope length reducer. This can reduce sheet erosion problems while allowing farmers to continue intensive farming practices.




Rill erosion is the movement of soil by intense water running over the small streamlets or head cuts. Detachment in a rill erosion occurs if the deposition in the stream is lesser than the amount the load can transport. The process of rill erosion is comparatively common among all other types of erosion. The rill canals can temporarily be eradicated by tillage. Tillage unties the soil making it more vulnerable to rill erosion.




In order to understand glacial erosion, you need to understand glaciers first. Actually, glaciers are dense masses packed with snow or ice that covers a hefty area of terrestrial. Glaciers exist in regions where the global temperature is below the freezing point. The perfect example is the north and south poles of the earth, where the temperature is below freezing point all the time. After the snowfall occurs in those regions, it will then compact in the form of the Ice Mountains known as glaciers.

This phenomenon is similar to making a snowball where you collect fluffy snow in your hand and compact by pressing with your hands. Due to which the pressure and heat from your hand cause snowmelt and then compact in the form of a solid ice block. The phenomenon of creating glaciers is similar to making a snowball but much on a larger scale. The sunlight melts some snow, which then freezes later when the temperature drops at night in a more solid form. Ultimately, the mass of snow layers upon layers, and the melting and freezing phenomenon, turn the layers into a solid block of ice.




River erosion is something that occurs every day in rivers, lakes, ponds, and oceans. All-natural systems that drain into a river will suffer some erosion over time. When they reach a certain point, they start to lose their ability to drain water as they absorb more water from them.

Most often, we see this happen with lakes. As a lake drains into a river, its ability to carry the water drops to a certain point. Because of this, the river has no way to carry the water out. Instead, the water flows downstream, causing the entire river bed to erode. This causes the bank of the river to collapse. Most of the time, we see this happening in regions where people tend to build dams, channelize, and channelize pools. This tends to happen when erosion occurs around the dam, as debris and plants make their way down to the river below.




Coastal erosion is the process of eroding of terrestrial and the deletion of dune or beach deposits by a tidal current, wave action, high winds, or drainage. Waves, produced by rainstorms, wind, or moving craft, cause coastal erosion, which may cause losses of sediments, and merely the impermanent rearrangement of coastal sediments. Erosion in one site may result in a deposit nearby. The study of erosion and deposition redistribution is called ‘coastal morph dynamics. It may be triggered by hydraulic action, impact, abrasion, and corrosion.




Construction Exits reduce the transport of sediments of a construction site. Construction Exits are graveled areas located where vehicles enter and leave a land disturbance site to provide a buffer for the deposition of mud and sediment. These exits provide an area where mud can be removed by the motion of the vehicle as it moves over the gravel construction material.




Plastic is very sustainable, but it has a lower E-modulus than wood and steel. Softwood offers much strength and is cheap, but it rots away when it is applied at the water surface. However, immersed softwood has a very long life span.




Erosion Control Blankets should be used in areas where some flow of water is to be expected throughout a small duration, or in the case that you do not want to hydro-seed. Either because of budget concerns or space limitations.




Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil, usually 2-3 inches deep. It is the most important part of the soil, where most of the biological activity occurs. But when laid bare, a rainy season or even a single heavy rain shower can wipe away that topsoil.

When the topsoil is lost, plants will have a hard time growing in the subsoil. So much so, that ground without topsoil can remain barren for years if not attended to immediately.  Top soil takes a long time to regenerate so when your yard is particularly vulnerable to erosion, it’s a good idea to protect your soil to prevent costly expenses such as purchasing topsoil to replace the eroded amount.


Erosion control is an action that is taken into place by homeowners and farm owners to prevent the destruction of soil, which is caused by the natural effects of wind, rain, and excessive water on the soil surface. Soil erosion occurs on most residential property landscaping due to too much watering.

Erosion control can be simply done on your landscaping or farm by implementing so well designed materials. There are various different sorts of erosion control products with your landscape maintenance duties and to stop and prevent erosion from occurring.

Seek professional advice if you are ever unsure about what you are seeing. A method will be put in place once you have chosen the right erosion control product, which is suited to your landscaping such as grid systems or water systems.




Four essential elements comprise the hydro-mulch slurry. Seed, fertilizer, and fiber mulch. These elements are mixed with water as a slurry mix in a machine mounted mixing tank. The size of our mixing tanks ranges from 500-gallon trailer-mounted to 3000-gallon semi-truck mounted, depending on the size of the job. Under hydraulic pump pressure, the slurry is applied through a hose or a mounted cannon, over desired areas. The gun mounted cannon is good for areas accessible to the equipment. Hose applications are ideal for the back yard and hard to access locations for vehicles. Up to 1000 feet of the hose can make even the most remote job accessible to the process.




The importance of a healthy soil (and foliar) microbial community to proper ecosystem functioning is well recognized. Compost tea is a technology developed to help replenish and restore this community on lands where it is degraded – plant growth is typically improved with tea applications containing the correct mix of beneficial organisms for the vegetation being grown (Ingham, 2005). Compost Tea production is a “cold brewing” process, allowing the growth of organisms extracted from the compost.

Various organic foods / organic fertilizers are added during the brewing process to provide food & nutrient substrates for the microbial organisms to grow. The degree to which fungal growth, versus bacterial growth, is sustained during the brewing process will depend on the quality of the initial compost used and the type of food/nutrients added. It is important that the process remains aerobic during the brewing process and up until the tea is applied – if the tea becomes anaerobic, beneficial organisms (aerobic fungi, protozoa, and nematodes) may be lost, replaced by anaerobic bacteria and yeasts (Ingham, 2005).

Given the contaminated nature of the soil, and lack of vegetation in the Riverbank Restoration Project area prior to the present reclamation treatments, restoration of the microbial community here is considered a vital component of the project. To help achieve this, three compost tea applications are scheduled for each year until 2011. As of fall 2008, five compost tea applications have been made (two in 2007 and three in 2008). The compost tea is applied through injection into the irrigation system.




There are various types of erosion control matting which homeowners can use and implement into their monthly landscaping maintenance duties to prevent erosion from occurring. Erosion control matting is available in loads of different designs and sizes but they all offer the same qualities and benefits which include:

        • They conserve soil moisture.
        • They offer a realistic natural look to your landscape.
        • Erosion control matting will increase water infiltration.
        • They also will moderate your soils temperature.
        • Matting will absorb and break down the harsh impact of rainfall.





The erosion of our hill sides can be a daunting problem. Jute netting and erosion control blankets are two easy and affordable solutions for it though. After one of these products is placed on a hill side they effectively stop erosion. Planting grass seeds over them will stop erosion when they biodegrade away. With the proper fallow up of plants with larger roots systems the hill side can become much more stable and less likely to erode again.





Grass seeds are a good fast option to plant over jute netting or erosion control blankets. Grass roots will grow quickly providing a quick natural form of erosion control. However, for long term erosion control no other plant will stabilize a hill side like trees with big sturdy roots. Some shrubs and other plants work well also. Keep in mind when picking what plants to put on your slope that they should have roots of varying depth with roots growing deep, shallow and at the surface. Your landscaper will be able to tell you what slower growing plants work best to make sure erosion never becomes a problem again in the future.




Here is a great list of plants for erosion control at your home.  Though there are much more than just these plants, these ones are tried and true.  These plants tend to control soil erosion. Next week we will have another post about plants that help to control other parts of the eroding hillside.

Some of the best erosion control plants include:

  • GROUND COVERING PLANTS (to keep the surface soil in place)
          • Achillea millefolium, also known as Yarrow needs full sun or part shade.
          • Baccharis pilularis ‘Twin Peaks’ or ‘Pigeon Point’, Dwarf Coyote Brush.
          • Any of the Grasses that have a very tough and fibrous root system.
          • The Monkey Flower plant is also great to lessen the effect of erosion.
          • Epilobium canum and E. canum latifolia Also called the California Fuchsia, sometimes requires shade, depending on the color, this is great if you have shady hill that is having erosion problems.


So this is the end of this topic called Erosion, we have tried to cover every single topic that directly related to Erosion.